Prisoner, My Prisoner
Part 12: Twelve Cell Prison Over? It's over.
Genre: Romance/General [AU]
Author's Notes: Despite what the title might imply this is NOT the last chapter.
I was not going to post this for at least another week while I worked on chapter 13, but I got a review from Sailor Silver Moon and I changed my mind.
2 Reviews stuck out so I pulled them and added them up here.Question: How many estimated chapters left? – Somewhere between 2 – 5. It is possible to exceed 5 but not likely given the chapter length. Question: What was Ayame doing at Sesshoumaru's castle? – This will be explained chapter 13.
Naraku stared. What the bloody hell was this?!
Kagura cast him a curious glance.
Marriage? To that stuffy lord's son? No way. Kagome would never agree to that. He scowled. He scanned the letter again. It was clear enough. Kagome would marry Masaharu Sesshoumaru, by her own choice no less.
He frowned. He didn't believe a word of it, but he couldn't completely dismiss it either. It muddied the air.
"Your daughter is marrying Masaharu Sesshoumaru." Naraku announced to his wife, as he crumpled the paper, tossing it aside.
Kagura seemed to snort in reply turning her head away.
Naraku frowned. His time was just about up it seemed. He wondered if Kagura realized her time too was dwindling. Without her liquor she was back to her normal, moody self. Lately though she'd been moodier than usual. He stood languidly, Kikyo followed. He'd forgotten she was in the room.
He walked out and she followed obediently. Several feet down the hall he stopped.
"Before she was taken back, did you see her?"
"No." Kikyo replied, obviously aware that he was speaking of Kagome.
Naraku nodded. "Prepare yourself. Our final hours are approaching. Ready the battlements, prepare the guards. We make our final stand here, and it will be a glorious one."
He left her there to ponder or plan. Whatever she wanted to do as long as she got done what he told her. But she would, Kikyo never failed, just as Kagome never gave up.
Kagome stared blankly at the wall. What was she waiting on? Then she heard it, the shuffle of movement and she turned to the window again. Something big was going on. Something... Something that wasn't going to make her happy. There was a shift, a scuffle, and footsteps. Lots of them, running down the hall. She plastered herself back against the panel wall. What was going on? Were they under attack? Why was she suddenly afraid?
The door slid open almost causing her to jump. She did not feel anymore relieved when she saw who was standing there. Sesshoumaru.
"There's no more time." His voice was low and silky.
How could he sound seductive at a time like this, she absently wondered the thought vanishing as the space between them evaporated as he moved closer. Step by agonizing step.
What was going on, she thought again.
"What's going on?"
"Your father's fortresses have fallen. He's been pushed back to his original land plot. The final assault against his home fortress is about to begin."
"H-home fortress? You mean... where I lived?"
They were all going to die. Nuijirou, Ryuusuke, Yagorou - three of the palace guard's she'd been continuously scolded by for trying to sneak outside. Etsuko, Miya, and Chidori - her maids were going to die. Abi, the woman who'd taught her to sew. Raina, the lady who'd taught her what little she knew of cooking. Her heart felt heavy, her chest felt tight. Her family. They were her family, they were going to die. Oh! She turned quickly away. No... No!
Behind her was movement, but she didn't turn to see whom it was that had come in. A moment or so later the person left without a word, but still she remained steadfast in front of the window.
"Come." He ordered.
"Where are we going?" She asked.
He turned, leaving her to follow and she could do naught but trail after him, wondering and thinking. She was led to the outer front courtyard. It was bustling with activity. Foot soldiers to one side, and soldiers with horses and brightly colored flags on another. Were they going to a battle? She was still peering about when he stepped back in front of her, pushing something into her arms. Clothes.
"Change, and be quick about it."
He motioned briefly behind her, as though to go back into the Citadel. She wearily obeyed, worried over the order only to find that Aya met her at the doorway.
"Kagome-sama, come this way."
Aya led her to a small side room and she quickly stripped off her kimono, and picked up the garments. A white haori and a blood red hakama. She was being dressed in the Masaharu family colors. Sure enough, there on the back of her haori was the Masaharu family crest. She shrugged off her unhappiness at the thought and quickly pulled it on, Aya assisting her to quicken the process. Once done she was thrust out the door and quickly ushered back to the courtyard. The commotion had not settled down.
When she again stepped out she found Inutaisho and Sesshoumaru standing together. Dressed identically, but their differing armor styles set them apart. It was Inutaisho who first noticed her only two or three feet behind them.
"You're taking the girl to battle?"
Sesshoumaru turned slightly to eye her critically in the new garb. "I won't have her weak."
'Won't have her weak'? What did that mean?
He didn't want her to die, like his former wife Toki had? Or maybe he meant that he didn't want to be bothered with protecting her even though he'd said not so long ago he wanted to 'save her'. Perhaps he simply meant that because she was Naraku's daughter there was no way she could avoid fighting, even by hiding in the Citadel.
Jaken's appearance however caused her thoughts to turn in a new direction. He was leading two black stallions into the courtyard. She groaned. Naturally the trip was being taken on horseback.
There were bundles of something on the back of both horses. Jaken led one of them to her, thrusting the reins in her hands and then moving on leading the other horse to Sesshoumaru.
"Whatever dislike you have of horses, get over it. It's a long trip."
Kagome didn't spare him a glance, suddenly shaken by the uneasy tingling that had erupted in her. The strange unwelcome feeling that now worried her. She turned her gaze skyward and backwards, searching. Her gaze touched each window, looking for the source of her distress. His voice called her back however, making her give up the search and she was assisted up onto her horse.
"Uh... my experiences with horses is rather limited."
He pulled himself up onto his own horse, and finally sparing her a glance. "You'll learn."
She glared about to tell him how helpful he was not being when he looked away from her to say something or other to his father. He urged his horse forward and she attempted to replicate his actions, happy when the horse obliged and followed after. Her on a horse. This wasn't going to go well.
She trailed a significant pace behind him, just watching the gentle sway of his horses tail up ahead of her. He looked so gallant on a horse, she thought. So unlike the unstable lord he really was, being halfway nice one moment and drawing a sword on her the next she thought. Although that had been a while ago, and she was being just as moody as he was.
Aside from being uncomfortable, this trip seemed to be taking forever. She hadn't gotten enough sleep, she was hungry, and it was almost noon. Not only that it was eerily silent. No one was saying anything. Were these journeys always without conversation or was it because she was here? She was the only female among the troop. Plus she still didn't know where they were going and why she had to with them. She sighed heavily.
She would have launched into a new set of loathing thoughts if someone had not galloped up to ride beside her.
Her happy exclamation seemed to draw everyone's attention, turning many heads in their direction.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"Ah, I am indebted to the young lord Sesshoumaru-sama, and so I go with him into battle. I was told to give you this."
He reached behind him, grabbing for something. She peered back, watching as he drew forth a bow and then handed over a quiver of arrows.
"Sesshoumaru-sama said that you excelled with the bow."
He smiled reassuringly at her. "Um... I don't understand. Where are we going?"
His smile faltered. "You mean you don't know?"
She shook her head. "No... He wouldn't say."
Miroku turned his gaze straight ahead. "I should not say then. It is not my place and I cannot disobey Sesshoumaru-sama if he does not wish you to be made aware. I hope you will forgive me, Kagome-sama."
She sighed heavily. "Don't worry about it, I'll just save the tongue lashing for the fearless leader up there. When I'm finally able to get off this stupid horse!"
She shouted somewhat temperamentally at the animal, but it kept on, ignoring her.
"Actually we should be arriving soon. About another hour or so. Do not worry."
"Easy for you to say, you know exactly what you're doing. I'm walking in blind."
She suspected they were heading home, but she could not be certain. She grumbled a bit more, falling silent when she spotted Sesshoumaru ahead, horse stopped. He appeared to be looking around. Had she known how, she might have sped up to see if anything was wrong, but situations as they were she continued on her leisurely pace. Approaching within the span of a few short moments, Miroku, on her left side abruptly rode off as they came upon him. She almost rode by him when he began moving again, horse alongside hers where Miroku had once been.
She turned toward him. "Sesshoumaru-sama?"
"We're heading toward a your home, are you ready?"
She shifted nervously. "No."
She looked ahead, swallowing hard at the sight. Home. She was finally home. "I can't... it's... people are going to die."
He pulled his horse to a stop, reaching to do the same to hers.
She glanced around at the soldiers still filing past her. Young, youthful faces, some who have probably never seen battle, she thought dismally. Some who probably had wives and young children. Some who would never see them again, and for what? Her father's maddening lust for power?
When would it all end? Better yet, would it only end when her father was dead? On which side of the line would she fall when it finally came down to it? Would she rest on the Higurashi territories, or on the Masaharu when lines for the final battle were drawn? Would she be in any way responsible for the inevitable death of her father? Could this war end any other way? Her father was not going to give up, and Inutaisho had said he wanted nothing less than his blood, which meant death.
Could she kill people... for nothing? Better yet, could she kill the people in that building? Her family, the people she loved?
"I can't..." she whispered, pulling back firmly on the horse's reins and to her surprise, it stopped. He did the same, eyes with a hard, unsympathetic stare turned back at her.
"If you can't... you'll die here."
She met his gaze firmly. "Don't say such things to me. I am a miko above all else. Being so I am willing to die before I am pulled into something as vicious as this - this endless, pointless battle that destroys houses, families, and leaves children orphans. This, which spawns awful hatreds in people so that they live only for battle, unable to function when they are returned to peaceful times. Do not make assumptions about me. I have been protected, I have not been spared the reality of war."
. . .
An unfathomable pride and admiration welled for her within him. She was not the hopelessly idealistic little creature he'd imagined her to be. She knew and understood how damaging this conflict really was. She seemed to understand, beyond even some of the soldiers around them just how much their lives would never be the same. How some lurked among their numbers with dark minds filled only of blood lust.
At the same time however, her words caused him dread. She would not be safe anywhere. He couldn't protect her from everything and if she were not able to kill to protect herself then she would die. Fighting alongside him she would be regarded as a traitor by the Higurashi forces.
His field commander trotted by and Sesshoumaru nodded, giving his permission. The battle would commence upon the commander's word as he rode off ahead, following the troops. Sesshoumaru remained, turning his head back to her, watching her face as he heard the shouts, the commencement of a battle now behind him as he brought his horse around to her right side, facing the opposite direction of the battlefield.
He reached out tilting her head up, making her see what was happening before her on the field. He could hear the shouts, the screams, and the sounds of pain as the archers on the roof cut them down. She swallowed hard, eyes tearing up before she finally wrenched her chin out of his grip, turning hard to her right, eyes fluttering closed as teardrops escaped from her eyes.
The battle continued. He glanced back to see the battlefield littered with bodies, bloody patches of ground, arrows, swords, and horses. The price of war, he thought grimly.
He looked back as she began to speak. "Someone once told me that learning to use a sword was learning how to kill."
"It wouldn't be untrue." He agreed.
"But then, protecting people is really the same. Killing before you are killed."
"Only in war time."
Kagome's eyes narrowed on something and Sesshoumaru turned to see what it was. He frowned as he saw a familiar figure on top of the roof; her long obsidian locks giving her away immediately. Kikyo.
"What will it take to make it stop? What can I do to keep you from killing them all?"
He glanced up; she was no longer firing her arrows. Kikyo was staring down at her sister. Sesshoumaru turned to Kagome tilting her chin down away from her sibling on the rooftop. He leaned close, brushing his nose with hers. His shook his head weakly, his bangs brushing sensually against hers.
"Nothing," he pressed the word from his mouth to hers as he leaned to her, sealing his lips against hers. Her breath caught sharply. He reached around, tilting her, slanting her mouth more sharply against his. He leaned back so quickly a moment later she fell forward against him.
The fingers at the back of her neck twirled around in small circles. It was a very comforting motion, causing her to further relax into his grip. He pressed a kiss to the top of her ear.
He shifted back from her. He pulled on the reigns, maneuvering his horse around and galloping toward the field. The archers on the roof were now preoccupied with the men who had charged the castle and were now inside. It was merely a matter of time now. His father would be arriving any minute. All that was left was Kagome and how she would handle it all.
His lips still tingled from that searing kiss. How he'd longed for it. He'd wanted to wait, not wanting the memory of her unresponsive lips on his. He'd wanted her to return the kiss with ardor, and surprisingly, she had. He could no longer affect her future, she was here, she would decide on her own. But if she, or he didn't come back from this he'd wanted the memory of her lips, just once.
He turned his head at a flare of motion and saw his father had arrived. That was it then, the final act would begin now. All they had to do was track down Naraku.
Kagome peered down the halls taking in their familiarity. This was no longer home. It smelled like blood, the air was permeated with it. She swallowed hard, trying to block it out but it was futile.
Some of the screen doors were torn, others were blood spattered. It was a wreck. Her home was a mess. Ahead was her father's study. The doors were - open.
She threw open the doorway, panting.
All eyes inside turned to her, as did the armed men. Luckily for her there were no archers in the room.
"You're okay!" She exclaimed. "I've been so worried!"
She rushed inside collapsing at his feet.
"W-Why is it so quiet?"
Her eyes focused on her father.
"Are you engaged to Masaharu?"
"What?! Of course not! You would never allow that."
He smirked lightly. "Come here."
She did as he asked crawling up to sit beside him as she had when she was young, dropping her head on his shoulder. His arm came up around her. It was terrifying. She felt as though she were waiting for death.
"Why did-" she hesitated.
"Why did you send me to Onigumo?"
His grip tightened. "Not I - your mother had something to do with that little fiasco."
He sat her up, turning her gaze to his. "That pest, Inutaisho will be here any time now. Go, slow him down."
She faltered but stood. "I-I'll try."
"Good girl," he waved her off quietly.
She stumbled out of the room blindly, fumbling down the hall that led to her room. Maybe if she could just get back there. She was halfway to her room when she heard it. The shrill shriek of her sister Kikyo. She ran, picking up a sword as she passed by one impaled in the ground. The hilt was bloody and she could feel it smearing her palm, but she kept on.
She flew up the stairs heading toward the rooftop where she knew her sister to be and found her. Pinned - back against the wall - by Inuyasha.
He looked toward her and Kikyo took advantage of his distraction, knocking him away from her. He cocked a grin.
"You think you're better than me, eh?"
She scowled gripping her sword tighter. "Against your mediocre talent?"
Kagome moved to intervene when she felt something. Something foul in the air. She peered over the edge just in time to see Inutaisho ride inside the castle walls. He turned his gaze briefly to her but dismounted and vanished within all too quickly. Yet it was not he that gave her such a gut-wrenching feeling. No. This felt very different indeed. She looked up, scanning the horizon and paled.
Troops. She couldn't see them but she knew they were there. She could sense them approaching somehow and the skin crawling feeling was familiar also. It could be none other than Onigumo.
She swept down picking up a discarded bow and setting a quiver of arrows upright. She collected as many as she could off the ground around her feet, trying not to step and break any precious arrows. She gathered as many as she could leaving Kikyo to fend for herself against Inuyasha. She brought them over, straightening them out, discarding those with broken heads. She stuffed as many as she could into the quiver and then set up another right beside it.
They weren't family. They weren't tentative 'friends'. Onigumo was her enemy. She would fight she determined. She turned briefly calling over her shoulder.
Kikyo probably knew Onigumo was coming, she wouldn't help. She wouldn't care if Inuyasha and the rest all died here. She wouldn't care, but Kagome did. Kagome worried.
As she stood there, waiting, she toyed with the idea of casting a barrier around the castle. The castle that was practically swaying under the force of the battle within its walls. No, she didn't want to trap the men inside, but she didn't want the approaching soldiers to get in.
Where was Sesshoumaru, she wondered? She'd been apprehensively licking her lips since he'd kissed her, unable to forget the feel of his lips pressed against hers. She bit her bottom lip nervously reaching for an arrow, stringing it masterfully through her bow. Maybe she could hit him from here? Would she get that lucky when he finally came into sight? She was a master archer, certainly, but nervousness had always thrown her aim off.
Ever since she was a child she paled in comparison to Kikyo's steady hand and unshakable concentration. Behind her the battle with Inuyasha and Kikyo continued. She glanced around, expecting to see them with swords at each other's throats. Rather there were several feet of space between them; they were staring at each other intensely. She felt a smile touch her lips. Oh, did they like each other?
A gentle laugh escaped her drawing their attention. "How sweet..."
Kikyo frowned at her and Inuyasha puffed up arrogantly.
"Kikyo," Kagome called impatiently. "Onigumo is coming."
"What?!" Inuyasha broke into a run and peered eagerly over the edge. "Where is he?! I'll kill that bastard!"
"Kikyo," Kagome called. "Will you stay here and hold him off if you can?"
Kikyo was clearly startled at the suggestion.
"This isn't going to last - it's over today. Please? Please keep him away. I have to go to father. I have to be there."
"Get out of here, Kagome. Run before it's too late."
Kagome stopped on her way to the stairs. "What?"
"Father doesn't intend to let anyone escape, so get away while there's still time."
Kagome smiled. "I can't do that."
She turned, discarding her bow, and flew down the stairs.
Kagome groaned, blinking her eyes. Her head was pounding and she was... Was she wet? She sat up, pulling herself up to her hands and knees, and paling. Blood... everywhere was blood. She looked around. To her left was a puddle of the maroon liquid where a body had once been but the room was empty save for her. She sat up taking note of her stained clothing, and looking around. Everything was silent. Where was she? She wasn't even sure.
She stood, stumbling slightly trying to remember.
She'd been running, running back to her father. To help or intervene or something. Try to help someone. The hall had been empty and the door closed but she'd rushed for it anyway, throwing it open and rushing inside. She hadn't time to turn when she heard a single footstep. Something had impacted with the back of her head. She'd fallen, remembering the pressure of another body slamming her to the ground, knocking her breath out of her lungs. Everything after that was blank.
She panicked at the sound of a door sliding open and whirled too quickly, making herself dizzy in the process. "You shouldn't be up yet."
She scowled. It was her 'mother'.
Where was she? What was she doing here? What happened?
"Where is this?"
"It's a small dwelling in town, a couple miles from the castle."
"How did I get here?" Kagome asked, her voice almost a hiss.
Kagura shot her a look. "Your father apparently arranged for you to be removed from the battle. I followed. Here is where you ended up."
Kagome raised a hand to her head. "Who brought me?"
"Some servant of Naraku's I don't know his name, does it really matter?"
Kagome barely checked her growl at the woman, staggering to the door.
"Where are you going?"
She turned, just slightly to view the woman who had given birth to her. "None of your business."
With that she stepped out, sliding the door closed behind her. It was dark out. She felt her spirits sink. What would she do at night? It wasn't safe for her to travel, let alone by herself. She looked around, one hand on her aching head the other held out trying to maintain her balance.
Was she really in town? Whose blood had that been on the floor in there? Had someone died lying next to her? She didn't know and she wasn't going back in to ask her mother.
Spotting a horse anchored near by she stumbled toward it, managing to get it unwound from it's post and hauling herself up. She was stealing someone's horse. She was stealing someone's horse, she paused a moment trying to get it through her head that she was doing something bad, but it wouldn't serve. She urged the horse on, still a bit nervous and extremely lightheaded but pressed forward. The castle should be... close.
She was feeling wobbly the further they went so she leaned forward against the horse letting it support her fully. She let her eyes drift half closed keeping the horse on the trail she knew led to the Higurashi Castle. She was not prepared for the sight that met her when she finally reached the looming palace several minutes later.
Even in the darkness she could see her home was in ruins. The long, tall smoke trails up into the sky were an off color from the dark background and the moon illuminated them eerily. She felt her breath catch as the horse continued onward. She managed to yank it to a stop and slide off, tumbling to the ground, vision blurred by tears. It was over.
Kagome stumbled toward the crumbling structure, passing under an uneven, unsteady doorframe. She could smell the smoke from the still burning or once burning building. She coughed, sucking in the polluted air. She stepped inside, trying to see in the inky darkness. She fumbled in a side room near the entrance, finally locating a candle and lighting it. The light was insufficient but it was better than nothing.
She kept one hand along the wall for balance as she walked down the halls. It was dark and silent, and seemingly abandoned. Not even soldiers it seemed were left from the climatic battle just earlier that day. How long had it really been? She came to a hall that opened in several directions and turned down the one she knew would lead to her father's room. She could barely see but the familiarity of home was enough to help her navigate the darkened corridors, the small candle helping slightly.
She narrowly avoided tripping over wreckage in the halls and the sickening solid feel of bodies here and there. They were then the soldiers or the servants of the Higurashi Castle - she'd encountered them even in the courtyard. She felt a nauseating pull in her belly. Her loved ones were dead on the ground at her feet, she could not see whom it was she was nearly stepping on. Nor did she want to see the cold lifeless eyes of her former friends and those she considered family. She cringed at the thought slowing even more as she neared the edge where her father's doorway was to be found.
The doorway was no longer a doorway, but a gaping hole where a shoji door had once been installed. She held out her hand with the candle into the room hoping to illuminate as much as she could. It cast eerie shadows on the walls and the silence of the building was deafening and the smell all spoke of death. She swallowed hard and stepped inside.
She walked slowly afraid of everything, each little sound making her jump. She nearly dropped her candle twice before she was halfway to the center of the room. Just as she thought she would find no one inside, dull shapes began to emerge along the edges of the room and then closer in and around. Tears blurred her eyes she stared upon faces she'd known in life. She stopped cold when she saw Etsuko four arrows through her chest, her body pegged to the wall with the force of the impact, her head tilted down and lifeless.
A broken sob escaped her as she continued forward. Was he here? Was her father in this room with them? Dead? She stopped again her candle falling on a familiar form.
. . .
The morning brought dawn, but no comfort to the daughter of one of Japan's most hated men. She rose from her light, restless slumber and walked around the castle searching for signs of her sister, but found none. Maybe she'd been captured, maybe she'd escaped, Kagome couldn't know where she was. Settled with the fact she was not there she'd returned to the grim task at hand. Her father.
It hurt. It hurt worse than anything she'd ever felt before. No physical injury could ever match the inescapable pain in her chest. He was gone. Nothing could bring him back. Nothing. Her tears wouldn't stop. Her eyes poured over hot tears onto burning cheeks sensitive from her brushing them away so much.
She kneeled, lifelessly, at the burial mound she'd made for him. She'd spent all morning preparing a place for him and then clumsily dragging his body to the spot. She'd apologized for the rough treatment of his body, hoping he'd forgive her. She'd cried the entire time, unable to look down at him without breaking into tears all over again. Arranging him in his burial plot had been just as difficult. She had kept her eyes closed the entire time she filled in the plot, unable to bear the sight of her father being covered by soil.
Now she sat beside him, still crying, with nowhere to go and no one to go to.
Sesshoumaru stared down into his soup solemnly. No one said anything. Never had breakfast at the Citadel been so grim. The war was over - they had won, but no one dared to celebrate the victory.
The lord's son's unusual withdraw only added to the discomforting atmosphere. He sighed inaudibly bringing the clear liquid to his lips, and sipping. He was not feeling all that hungry, the pain in his arm was only adding to his discontent as well as lack of appetite.
He'd lost her. Kagome had vanished from the Higurashi Castle. He'd had every inch of the building and grounds searched, but she was not to be found. Whether she had run away again or been taken he couldn't be sure. Inuyasha had seen her on the roof and witnessed a conversation she'd had with her sister.
He relayed that Kikyo had encouraged Kagome to leave while there was still a chance but Kagome was resolute about staying. He believed his brother and he believed Kagome. That seemed to indicate then she hadn't left of voluntary choice, someone should've seen her. Yet Kikyo and Kagura were also missing. He had considered the possibility the three of them had escaped together but Kagome had unsettled issues that ran deep with her mother. It seemed far too unlikely. Aside from that the monk, Miroku, had told him he had seen Kikyo escaping the Citadel, alone, during the search for Kagome.
The door burst in suddenly a servant standing on the threshold, panting.
The lord of the castle looked up.
"We've collected all of the injured from the battlefield as your lordship commanded ... but..."
Inutaisho waited. "But what?"
"On the rear properties near the woodland on the Higurashi Castle, Higurashi Kagome's body was found."
Sesshoumaru's head snapped up. "Body?"
The room seemed to suddenly chill. No one spoke - everyone stared at the servant expectantly.
"Ah, yes, Sesshoumaru-sama but she is not dead."
A silent sigh of relief coursed through the room. "She's not dead?"
He shook his head. "No. She was collected by the rescue squad, washed, and examined by a doctor. She was uninjured and taken to rest with the other combatants. When they came to serve breakfast however she was gone. No one seems to have seen her at all... as though she were never really there."
Sesshoumaru stood without a word and quietly left the room.
His feet took him to the private front garden where he often found solitude away from the servants, away from the stress of being a parent, and away from his duties. He stood at the edge of an uninhabited water pond at the corner of the garden. Lilies grew inside the small water hole, but no fish lived in this garden. He looked down at himself before shrugging off the kimono top letting it drop over his shoulders.
His eyes traced over his own mangled form - a stump where there had once been an arm. He'd met with Goshinki unexpectedly. He, naturally, was Goshinki's superior but his ability to read thoughts had initially hampered him resulting in the irreplaceable loss of his left arm. The arm he'd worn her bracelet on.
Kagome was not coming back this time. The finality of the statement seemed to ring like a hollow echo in his ears. A sharp, unexpected disappointment washed over him. He had been more attached to her than he realized then, hadn't he? That kiss - that had meant more to him than he'd thought. Bringing her to the battle had been a mistake. A mistake that was irrevocable.
His lifted his arm, his remaining one. The metal bracelet had been ringed around his only wrist. He reached up, snagging it on a low hanging branch of a pin oak tree in the corner by the pond. He yanked, snapping the chain, fisting his hand around the falling chain as it fell off his wrist.
He stared at the bracelet as it glimmered in his palm remembering when Inuyasha had handed it to him. It seemed so long ago now. With the flick of his wrist he tossed it, watching it sink into the shadowy depths of the small pool. Bright green, floating foliage concealed the jewelry at the bottom of the small pond.
His connections with the Higurashi were all cut.
Kagome had long made her way back to the village. Her mother had beckoned her to a small dwelling, the one she'd left the previous day. She'd just barely escaped the group of people that had returned to the Higurashi Castle but they had likely seen her.
She'd followed the direction of her mother silently, entering the small house. Kikyo had arrived an hour later. Kagome had thought it suspicious that her mother expected her and even more so that Kikyo had known that they were there but she didn't dare voice her thoughts. She didn't wish to speak to either.
She couldn't be certain how long they sat there at the table in mere silence. By the time noon past however Kagome could no longer stand it. It was all too much. If that was how it was to be - if this was how her life would be - she wouldn't live it. Her life as a Higurashi was over.
She stood determinately. From this point forward she was... she was... she would be a nameless wanderer. She glanced down at her mother and sister they were both now staring at her.
"Kagome?" Kikyo inquired.
"I'm going now."
Kikyo stood. "Going where?"
"Away. I don't have anything left here, so I'm going. I'm sure I'll see you again." Kagome tried to reassure herself even as she smiled at Kikyo. They both knew it was forced.
Kikyo merely nodded in acceptance. "I see. I won't try to stop you then. Good luck, Kagome."
Kagome smiled, a smile of true happiness at her sister's answer. They embraced quickly, exchanging meager goodbyes. From the door Kagome bid her mother a simple 'farewell' and left.
She didn't know where she was going but as she stepped out of the safety of the small hut she felt free. Completely and totally free for the first time in her life. No ties, no restrictions, no limits, nothing. She could go anywhere. She could be anyone.
An empty laugh escaped her - today was the beginning of a new life. It was only sad that such a thing should be preceded by so much sadness.
As she began walking she, and another a distance away reflected over shared times, lost opportunities, and a single kiss.
[End Chapter Twelve ]
Author's notes: How on earth are Sesshoumaru and Kagome going to end up together if I keep ripping them apart this way? *Smiles*
Sorry I haven't updated. School is... a bit taxing. I've been so busy, and when I wasn't busy I've been unable to concentrate on writing. It seems to be wearing off though, which is good. Luckily for me, I've got class in 2 computer labs and 10 diskettes in my bag, plus my Yahoo! mail account, which I often use for writing stories. All the computer labs are internet connected so I'm set if I've got time and.... (a little more difficult to get a hold of ) ideas. ^_^
sesshyangel – You know I don't think I noticed that glad' she was violated' thing until you mentioned it. ^_^
Queen of the Storms – I would tell him but he's got such an ego. I'd never hear the end of it. I took his addition and heavily edited it so perhaps that's why you couldn't tell.
Aki no Yume1 – Kagura and Kagome do not like each other – and their relationship is only likely to deteriorate further as the story progresses.
1. If Naraku did not sent the letter then who did?- The matter of the letter is addressed in chapter ten, but do not expect definite answers.
2. Sara3 - Did Kagura get the seal when she slept with Naraku and give it to someone? – Nope, she could've lifted it at any time. If it wasn't in this chapter, it's in the next.
Darkened Skyes- I hope you don't have any high expectations for Sango and Kagome, I think Sango's part in the story is near over.
Kidoairaku– You're probably right, it was likely jumpy. I tend to do that sometimes.
Shinigami Clara – The thought you reader's put into this is really amazes me sometimes. I suppose the point of it was Kagome's continual status as someone's prisoner, although *smiles * that's about to change and you'll get to see the results. Coming chapter 13!
umi11 – I really hate Kagura, I despise her. She's my least favorite character in the whole show, that's very likely why I wrote her and Kagome on such bad terms. Kagura and Kagome's relationship is explained a little bit by Kikyo in chapter 13, I'm working on that now.
3. Does Kagura enjoy hurting Naraku that much? – Absolutely.
4. Shessy- When will everyone witness the extreme power Kagome possesses? - I'm not sure there will be a grand display of Kagome's power.
5. Is she stronger than Kikyo?No. Kagome has always been in her sister's shadow in means of strength.
6. Aleryne- Who is this Ayame character? She's a character from the later IY episodes.
7. Is she going to get a larger role in chapters to come?- She will appear again, chapter 13 and you will get to see how she and Kagome relate face to face.
I have no intention of killing off Sesshoumaru, he's too important, but no guarantees on injuries. This is a war.
Sailor Silver Moon – I decided to post this chapter solely because of you. I've never gotten a review so long before or so in-depth. Thank you. ^_^
8. First off, where did Kagome and Kikyo's miko powers come from?- Where did Kagome's miko powers come from in the show? Her mother wasn't a miko, and she supposedly got them from Kikyo but that was 500 years in the past. *Shrugs* I don't really know where her powers originate from.
9. Why, after she saved Kagome's life, would Kagura decide to torture her daughter? – Wartime, confusion, and things happen. It will be explained next chapter.
10. And why does Sesshoumaru have contact with Ayame if she's been around Kouga? Is it because she's a spy for them? And if she was, couldn't that have been a way to get Kagome the reishi when she needed it?- More thought on Ayame, also explained in 13.
11. Was it his idea for the caravan to be attacked in the first place, or was it coincidence? - Total coincidence, but wouldn't that have been neat? Naraku planned the whole thing? ^_^
12. Wouldn't a man as crafty as Naraku realize that it would be best to keep Kagome at home and post guards at all the doors so that the original cause wouldn't happen again?- He might have, but at that point he determined her life of being shut away was over.
13. I'm assuming the curse that Tsubaki put on Kagome was due to the letter that Sesshoumaru forged, but if Naraku believes the letter, why would he want only Sesshoumaru to die?- Actually, no. The curse put on Tsubaki was apart from Naraku entirely. Goshinki did that completely on his own because of his own resentment for Kagome. Maybe I should've been more clear. Sorry about that.
14. Didn't he say before that he wanted Kagome with him or dead? Finally, why, after all this time, is he deciding to kill Sesshoumaru? - Naraku wants to kill Sesshoumaru because he is the enemy's son, but he especially wants him dead now because of his interest in Kagome. I figured Naraku probably thought he wasn't good enough for her, and that he (Naraku) would not personally benefit from the union. Given that they're enemies and all.
15. If it was within his power, why didn't he do it in chapter one and then have Kikyo rescue Kagome? - Not possible.
16. After all, it seems that Sesshoumaru is the only one who Kikyo's ever lost to.- She'll lose to someone else soon.
17. But if he *can* kill Sesshoumaru - without Kagome interfering to save him, that is (because Kagome wouldn't have helped Sess at the beginning) - why not kill all the other Masaharu family members and end the war before Kagome was captured?- I don't think he could have. I don't imagine Naraku would have had the means to get close enough to Sesshoumaru to kill him.